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ICSC Predicts Back-To-School Boon

7/31/2006 12:20:00 PM Eastern

New York — Electronics are predicted to be one of the leading categories for back-to-school shoppers this year, according to a new study released by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

The study, conducted July 21-24 on behalf of ICSC and Citigroup Investment Research, questioned a nationwide sample of 1,000 adults who are either personally attending school or have school-aged children and who are planning to do back-to-school shopping.

The survey found that demand for PCs was “markedly stronger in 2006” and predicted that products like computers and computer accessories will lead back-to-school electronics sales, followed by PDAs, iPods other MP3 players.

The ICSC predicted back-to-school sales will grow by 3 percent to 4 percent this year, resulting in an overall $24.3 billion to $24.5 billion in sales. This total sales prediction is not exclusive to CE dealers, however, as the ICSC suggested that apparel and bookstores also stand to share in a significant piece of the back-to-school pie. In fact, the survey also found 56 percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to visit discount stores this year, up from slightly less than half of shoppers in 2005.

The ICSC found that 54 percent of back-to-school shoppers are focusing on price as their main motivation for spending this year, up from 50 percent in last year’s study. Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and researcher said, “Back-to-school items tend to be viewed as more essential, and not discretionary, for the consumer. The good news is that these consumers will spend for those items — but they are looking for more bargains.”

The survey found that 50.6 percent of consumers plan to do their shopping in August, but it also found that an increasing number of people (30.9) percent are planning to wait until September. Only 26.2 percent of respondents planned their shopping for September in the 2005 study.